SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum
May 30, 1994
The Right Reason
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May 30, 1994


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Of Owners And Boners

Led by noisy flag bearers Marge Schott of the Cincinnati Reds (who said that "only fruits wear earrings") and Larry Miller of the Utah Jazz (who engaged a Denver Nugget fan in a courtside fight), team owners last week were the subjects of embarrassing headlines. Well, it wasn't the first time. For a by-no-means-comprehensive look at owner gaffes over the years, try to match the stupid comment or action with the stupid owner.



1 George Steinbrenner, New York Yankee

A Told women reporters that if they wanted to come into the locker room, they would have to take off their clothes too.

2 Ted Stepien, Cleveland Cavalliers

B Once said of his team: "They're dogs on the field, and they're dogs off fhe field."

3 Bob Irsay, Baltimore Colts

C Convened a press conference to announce that he wouldn't mind if his team lost its remaining games so it could draft a top college player.

4 Harold Ballard, Toronto Maple Leafs

D Said that white people need white heroes and that, accordingly, he would stock his team with at least half white players to appease white fans.

5 Brad Corbett, Texas Rangers

E Seized P.A. microphone after Opening Day loss and apologized to the fans for team's poor play.

6 Tom Monaghan, Detroit Tigers

F Suggested that the white lawyer investigating him on behalf of the commissioner had done something wrong by adopttng black children.

7 Eddie DeBartolo Jr., San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Penguins

G Routinely showed up inebriated at games and on at least one occasion insisted on taking over the coaching reins on the sideline.

8 Ray Kroc, San Diego Padres

H Insisted that his photo adorn the cover of team media guide.

9 Norman Braman, Philadelphia Eagles

I Dismissed his team president by fax.

10 Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers

J Chose the occasion of team's championship victory parade to gripe about how much money he spent on the team and to announce an increase in ticket prices.

1-F, 2-D, 3-G, 4-A, 5-B, 6-I, 7-J, 8-E, 9-H, 10-C

The Right Reason

There is one very good reason to have a Division I-A college football playoff: Fans would be treated to a series of potentially thrilling games that would determine one and only one national champion—just as in every other college sport and in all the other divisions of college football.

There is one very bad reason to have a Division I-A college football playoff: greed. The case for greed was presented in great detail in an 800-page tome entitled Report to the NCAA Special Committee to Study a Division I-A Football Championship, released last week. The study, which was put together by a group of college administrators after consultation with TV executives, coaches, students, bowl officials and athletic directors, concluded, among other things, that an eight-team playoff would generate $62.7 million in new income for the sport.

The report suggests that college football is at death's door and that it needs a playoff to save it. The authors write, "College football overall seems to have plateaued in terms of public interest and, in terms of game attendance and television audience ratings, has failed to continue the growth rates experienced from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s."

But is the situation really as dire as al that? Of course, ratings are down: mainly because, thanks to cable television, there are a lot more channels now than there were in the early 1980s, and far more games available to viewers—676 were telecast in '88, compared with 2,133 in '93. The Nielsens for network college games in '93, for example, were the highest since '86.

The report points out that individual ratings for the major bowls are considerably lower than they were 10 years ago. But there are also more post-season games these days—all of them televised. Time was that New Year's meant only the Cotton, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls, but for the last decade fans have been able to surf around the dial to catch the Citrus Carquest Fiesta-Hall of Fame Bowl, as well.

The report repeatedly compares the bowls with the NCAA Division I basketball tournament—the fattest cash cow in college history. The NCAA has gotten spoiled. The 33% increase in gross revenue that the postseason bowls have experienced in the past six years seems unsatisfying only when it's placed beside the 120% increase that the basketball tournament has rung up over the same period.

What's more, the 1992-93 basketball tournament raked in $147 million, but after expenses and the NCAA's cut were deducted, only $89 million was distributed among the 301 Division I basketball schools—an average of $296,000 per school. The 1993-94 football bowl games brought in $88 million, of which $40.7 million was distributed to the 106 Division I-A football schools—an average of $384,000 per school. Uh-oh. Maybe college basketball should consider bowl games to drum up some interest?

Unequal Justice

Attention, NHL: Do the words double standard mean anything to you?

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